Digging Up Roots Turns One!

It’s hard to believe it, but this blog turns one year old today!  Happy blogoversary to me!!

Actually, I’d rather say “Thank you” to all of you that actually read my ramblings!  I started this blog last year with the intention that it would be a way for me to motivate myself to work on my genealogy more and actually start writing about some of my findings.  I never really imagined that others would start actually reading what I wrote!  Needless to say, I’m pretty happy with where things are after a year, and I am excited to see where things go from here.

A few things I have learned over the past year of blogging…

1) Even though others are reading my work, I need to write for myself.  I got pretty wrapped up in writing blog posts for a while and it became almost obsessive.  I lost sight of why I started doing this.  I’ve since re-focused and definitely spend more time researching than I do writing now.

2) I need to write consistently.  Ironically, the second big thing I learned is that if I set aside my writing for too long, I get out of practice and get out of the habit of posting my stories.  This defeats the purpose of blogging just as much as getting too obsessive did.

3)  The blog actually can be “cousin bait.”  I never really hoped for my blog to help me find distant cousins, but over the past year, I have actually found a couple “long lost” relatives on various sides of my family!  Talking and corresponding with them has helped me to focus my research at times, find new avenues to pursue in my research, and in one instance – break through a huge brick wall that I had been running into!  One of the things I wanted to do through my genealogy was to reconnect with some of relatives from my mom’s side of the family, and it took doing some blogging to get that underway.

and finally…

4)  I have a lot of education to do for myself on genealogy!  As I said earlier, writing has helped me focus my research, but it has also helped to show me where my weaknesses are in my methodology, documentation, citation, etc.  I think I am definitely a more accomplished and stronger genealogist/family historian than I was a year ago, and I hope that growth continues.

So what’s coming in the next year?  Honestly, I have no idea at this point.  I would say just more consistent posts and a wider variety of stories from more branches of my family tree.

Stay tuned…it should be a fun ride!

Family History Through the Alphabet – B for Bechtel

For 26 posts I will be doing a personal family history journey through the alphabet, one letter at a time.  My personal challenge for this series is that I am going to try to match as many of the letters as I can to first names of my ancestors and research that individual’s life to write a full narrative of their life.  For those letters that I can’t match to an ancestor, the post will be either a) about a artifact or a location where an ancestor lived, or b) educational in nature.  Although the challenge is complete, Alona, the host, is encouraging others to participate anyway.  Additional information on the challenge, can be found at Take the ‘Family History Through the Alphabet’ Challenge

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Interstingly, as I was putting together this Family History Through the Alphabet post, I realized something…I have no direct ancestors whose first name began with the letter B!  So I checked for others in my tree with a first name beginning with B…still nothing!  It came down to either I had to switch to a last name for this post, or do a post about my sister.  So, wanting to keep with the family history idea, I moved over to last names.  The first name that came to mind is also one of my biggest genealogical frustrations – the Bechtel family.  (Variations of the name that I have run across include Bechtal and Bechtol.)

My second great grandmother was Caroline Bechtel.  Unfortunately, I know very, very little about Caroline and her family.  I have  found very little in the way of documentation of Caroline’s life to be able to prove or even hypothesize on who her family was prior to her marrying my great great grandfather in 1850.  What I

Caroline Bechtel

do know of Caroline and her family comes from Federal Census records and Ohio Marriage records.  Admittedly, I have not had the opportunity to do “on the ground” research on the Bechtel family due to distance constraints.

Caroline Bechtel was apparently born in 1832 (possibly 3 February according to an undocumented family history passed down to me) in Stark County, Ohio.  Caroline married my great great grandfather on 7 July 1850 in Stark County, and they remained in Stark County until sometime between 1860 and 1870 because by 1870, they appear in the Jackson Township census for DeKalb County, Indiana.

Caroline died on 11 May 1873 at the age of 41 leaving behind John and their nine children.  I did manage to find John and Caroline’s grave marker in Bear Creek Cemetery many years ago though the cemetery was at that time in pretty bad disrepair.

One of my long-term genealogy goals is to find out more about Caroline and her family.  I would love to be able to finally trace the Bechtel family back beyond this one individual.